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Hamilton shrugs off criticism after missing out on British pole

Valtteri Bottas (right) pips teammate Lewis Hamilton to pole at Silverstone © AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC

SILVERSTONE, United Kingdom, Jul 13 – Lewis Hamilton brushed off questions about his lifestyle and heaped praise on his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas after the Finn had beaten him Saturday to pole position for the British Grand Prix.

The five-time world champion rejected suggestions that his regular trans-Atlantic commuting from Los Angeles to race at European Grands Prix was affecting his performances.

“I do have five world titles and they didn’t come on their own,” he said. “My preparation comes first and I’ve felt fantastic all weekend.

“The pressure’s quite high here, being a home Grand Prix. I prepare the best I can, but I do what I want.

“I don’t do what you think I should do or anyone else thinks I should do and that’s what has led me to five world titles.”

The questioning of his travel habits came after his former team-mate and 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg said that if had flown from Los Angeles to compete at Silverstone he would have struggled to make the top 10 in qualifying.

It also followed a blistering demonstration of speed by Bottas who took pole ahead of Hamilton by just 0.006 seconds, ending the championship leader’s hopes of claiming a fifth consecutive British pole and seventh overall at his home race.

Hamilton is seeking a record sixth British victory on Sunday and is 31 points ahead of Bottas in the world championship after winning six of this year’s nine races.

He made a slight error on his laps in the top-ten shootout, which cost him pole, but was philosophical about both that and the veiled criticism of his lifestyle.

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“I’m frustrated with myself,” he said. “But it is what it is.

– ‘Fit into a square box’ –

“It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.

“You can only look forward. Valtteri did the job, congratulations to him and for us it wasn’t the best of qualifying sessions.”

This week, in an interview for Channel 4 and The Times newspaper, Hamilton said: “The problem is that people expect you to fit into a box. You have to fit into a square box.

“This is how all the other drivers do it, so this is how you have to do it. That doesn’t work for me.

“I am different in my own way. This is how I get from A to B. This is how I achieve greatness. Just forget about comparing me to the previous people you’ve worked with…”

For Bottas, this blistering pole was the latest signal of his determination to land a first ever world title.

“For sure, the championship fight is still on,” he said.

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“I need to take every opportunity there is otherwise Lewis is going to be too far away and I won’t be able to reach him anymore.

“Tomorrow is going to be important, but so is the race after that and the race after that. I just need to use these opportunities and make sure I do everything I can to cut the margin.”


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